Correspondent Neil D writes:
If you Google around a bit, you’ll find a typically snotty Pitchfork review of Freakwater‘s 2005 album “Thinking of You” that says, in essence, “Sure, Catherine Irwin and Janet Bean may be brilliant lyricists and sing incredible harmonies, but when are they going to show us something new in their bag of tricks?”
Ten years and change later, Pitchfork can officially STFU. “Scheherazade,” the first Freakwater album since “Thinking of You,” maintains the singular harmonies and mind-bending lyrical twists that have come to typify Freakwater — there are even plenty of the band’s patented dead-baby references, though if I’m doing my textual analysis right, the “baby” thrown down the well in the leadoff track may not be what it at first seems. But musically it strikes out in unexpected directions, with one track (“Down Will Come Baby”) pairing Irwin’s banjo with a psychedelic guitar rave-up, while others seem to owe a debt to the carefully calibrated dissonance of Bean’s other band, Eleventh Dream Day.
The current Freakwater tour takes that spirit of experimentation out on the road, bringing along slide guitarist Morgan Geer (Drunken Prayer, The Unholy Trio), fiddle player Anna Krippenstapel, and drummer Neal Argabright(Jaye Jayle) to augment the core trio of Bean (guitar, vocals), Irwin (guitar, banjo, vocals), and David Wayne Gay (bass). Their set at Bell House — where they last previously appeared in 2013 performing their classic LP “Feels Like The Third Time” for its 20th anniversary — featured nine of the eleven tracks from “Scheherezade” (Geer performed another, his own “Missionfield,” during his opening set), including subtle gems like “Skinny Knee Bone” and “Velveteen Matador” (speaking of songs in need of deeper textual analysis); plus several Freakwater classics (highlighted by the chill-inducing “Cloak of Frogs”) and a Fairport Convention cover to close out the show. They still have a couple of weeks left on the road, so if they’re coming through your town, be sure to catch them before they disappear again — hopefully not for ten years this time.
This recording was mixed from a soundboard feed provided by the Bell House soundfolk (Nick and, um, I really need to start writing these names down), along with AT-853 cardioid mics mounted at the front of the soundboard. Feel free to re-edit the tracking to separate out several long sections of banter into your own Freakwater comedy album.
Download the complete show: [MP3/FLAC]
Soundboard > Sony PCM-M10 (line in)> WAV (24/48) + AT853 cardioid mics > SP-SPSB-1 battery box > Sony PCM-M10 (mic in) > WAV (24/48) > Sound Studio > FLAC (16/44.1) > Tag > FLAC
Recorded and mastered by neil d
02 What the People Want
03 The Asp and the Albatross
04 Buckets of Oil
05 Wound Up
06 Bolshevik and Bollweevil
07 Binding Twine
08 Velveteen Matador
09 Number One With A Bullet
10 Skinny Knee Bone
11 Falls of Sleep
12 Good For Nothing
13 Cloak of Frogs
15 Down Will Come Baby
16 Take Me With You
17 My Old Drunk Friend
18 Come All Ye Rolling Minstrels [Fairport Convention]